Ilkley is steeped in poetry this year. In the rocks, in books, with poets reading and with its own poet in residence and apprentice poet, the Festival highlights a landscape that is both muse and backdrop, harking back to the first Festival 39 years ago when W H Auden opened the event at one of his final public appearances.
Lining up to perform at this year’s Festival are some of the UK’s best known and well loved poets including leading dub poet, Benjamin Zephaniah (30 September), one of the official Olympic Poets, Lemn Sissay (12 October); former Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion with both a poerty reading and his new novel ‘Silver: Return to Treasure Island’ (10 October) and BBC Radio 4 favourite Roger McGough with his new collection ‘As Far As I Know’ (7 October). One of the original Beat generation, African American poet and author Amiri Baraka will bring his own particular rhythm to Ilkley on Monday 8 October.
The 2012 Festival includes some of the best known names in British poetry and they all hail from Yorkshire. Barnsley Bard Ian McMillan will be appearing with fellow poet Paul Mills to discuss Mills’ film ‘You Should’ve Seen Us’ (2 October). To mark the 400th anniversary of the 1612 Pendle Witchcraft Trials, author and poet Blake Morrison brings his new collection ‘A Discoverie Of Witches’ to the Festival (11 October) and Simon Armitage will talk about his journey across the Pennine Way, where his poetry readings paid the way, as described in his most recent book ‘Walking Home’ (6 October). Whether it’s the gentle lilt of the Dales or the distinct urban dialect of the industrial cities, the Yorkshire accent brings poetry to life at Ilkley with local voices that will transport audiences.
Rachel Feldberg, Director of Ilkley Literary Festival stated: “Poetry is an important part of the Festival and has been since York born poet W H Auden opened the very first festival in 1973. We are always keen to encourage new poets to get involved in the Festival where they can perform alongside and be inspired by the generation that have gone before.”
Born and raised in Leeds, Ilkley’s 2012 poet in residence Seni Seneviratne is of English and Sri Lankan heritage. At the Festival Seni will run poetry networking, open mic and masterclass events, as well as reading with poet Mimi Khalvati, founder of the Poetry School.
The Festival’s poetry events aren’t just for people who like to listen to other people’s poetry, there are several opportunities for audiences to get more involved.
* Celebrate National Poetry Day at the Festival’s informal networking and Open Mic session (4 October)
* Compete in the popular annual open mic on Sunday 14 October
* Come to the annual Festival Gathering of Poets- a multi lingual mushaira with poetry read in Urdu, Hindi, Bengali, English and Gujerati (30 September) which includes delicious interval food
* Enjoy the Festival showing of ‘We Are Poets’, the award winning documentary about the historic trip Leeds Young Authors made when they went to America to represent the UK in a prestigious Poetry Slam competition (6 October)
Four poets appearing in Ilkley – Daljit Nagra (7 October), Patience Agbabi (13 October), Moniza Alvi (13 October)and Raman Mundair (7 October)are creating new work to be performed at the Festival in response to an exhibition at Cartwright Hall ‘Silk’ and the collection at Harewood House.
The Festival also has an apprentice poet in residence Seán Hewitt. A recent graduate from Girton College, Cambridge, Seán is originally from Cheshire and will be learning from experience poet Seni as well as running his own events which include a lunchtime poetry reading with British poet, novelist, musician and lecturer Anthony Joseph and a workshop on found poetry where he will explain how to re-work existing words and phrases into new pieces.